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MAY GARDENING CHORES FOR THE

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

  • Tulips should be dead-headed(remove spent flower)100_0120
  • The grass can be mowed when it reaches 3-4 inches (sorry, but it IS that time again!)
  • Hold off mulching until the soil is warm, or you’ll just keep the cold in!
  • You can now plant lettuce, beans, corn and carrots right in the soil.
  • They say that tomatoes can be planted when the lilacs bloom. Hmmm…  You might sprinkle a teaspoon of Epsom salts into the hole where they go to provide magnesium.  44252830-beautiful-tomatoes-in-the-summer-garden-natural-conceptRemember that smaller plants will establish better than the larger ones, so go for the smaller potted plants rather than the big ones.  Be aware that temperatures MAY drop on some nights, so be prepared to  protect your seedings.
  • Marigolds, zinnias and even nasturtiums are good to plant in and around your vegetables as well as the flower beds. They repel insects!
  • You can begin to plant gladiolas at 2 week intervalsimages.duckduckgo
  • You can fertilize any bulbs that are up.
  • Stake your peonies before they get too big.  This web page about peonies is from Vermont.  However, the explanations are wonderful and the pictures are very helpful!IMG_6291
  • Insert stakes for dahlias and other bulbs at planting time to avoid spearing tubers which might happen after growth has started.
  • Harvest rhubarb by grabbing it at the base of the stalk and pulling firmly away from the crown, twisting just a bit. Be sure to throw the leaves into the compost as they are poisonous!images.duckduckgo
  • You can prune your spring blooming shrubs just as soon as the flowers have faded.
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Ah, yes!  Here they come…shoots, buds, flowers, and gardeners out snipping, digging, watering and just enjoying life in our gardens here at Horizon House!

Louise A. was out the other morning taking some lovely photos that I will share with you here.  They are ALL from our gardens, Level C, Level D and of course, the Secret Garden!  Go outside and enjoy them all!

 

My little succulent (mostly) garden thrives as well.  I give it a little watering when I’m down there, but don’t really worry too much about it.  It tolerates drought just fine!  Lucky for me, I guess.  IMG_7478

What does appear necessary to accomplish is some “dead-heading”.  The daffodils and even some tulips are beginning to look a bit bedraggled.  With bulbs it’s important to allow the leaves to feed the bulbs for next years blooms.  So, when you dead-head them, place your snipper down as low to the ground on the STEM that HOLDS THE FLOWER, and snip there.  Leave the surrounding leaves!  This is one of the reasons many gardeners plant their bulbs amidst other plants that come after and do a good job of hiding the gradually retreating bulb leaves.  As they turn brown, they too can be removed if you’d like.  Here’s a link to the University of Maryland Extension Service article about bulbs and their care, as well as dead-heading.

The other evening the Conservation Committee here at Horizon House hosted Dr. David Montgomery.  He spoke about his new book “Growing a Revolution:Bringing our Soil Back to Life”.  It was a wonderful program.  We all learned a lot.  It can even apply to our little garden plots here.

Enjoy being outside!  And Gardeners-HAVE A BLAST!

OK!  We’ve had enough now!  We’d like to get outside and enjoy the fruits of our labors!IMG_7445

This morning, the sun was shining and there were lovely white clouds in the sky.  I went out and checked the gardens…when I got back here to my apartment, it looks like RAIN again!  What’s with that?  But, at least I got to take some pictures.  The first very wet tulip is Ingrid L.’s. They are quite unusual and very pretty.

Let me say that everything looks GREAT…except for a few daffodil flowers that could really stand to be dead-headed.  Even a few tulips fell into that category.  They’d probably be OK for a few more days, but the rain took them out of (and into) their misery!  I didn’t take any pictures of THEM.  (The gardeners out there know who they are.)

If you “dead-head” those daffodils and tulips, remember to cut the flower stems WAY down.  LEAVE the leaves!  The leaves are where the bulbs get their nutrition for next year’s bloom.  This is the reason many gardeners plant their bulbs amidst other perennials, or even annuals that will cover the leaves, as they CAN be unsightly.

So, let’s see what I saw this morning on my travels in our Terraces.  Here’s a Leucothoe that is bragging with it’s new red growth, and lovely, drooping, bell-shaped, little flowers.IMG_7446

My own little succulent garden seems happy for the rain…and I’m happy for them!IMG_7453IMG_7454IMG_7452The rest of the photo’s I took as I walked.  Here’s an azalea from Barbara C.’s garden.

IMG_7456

Someone remind me who this camelia belongs to?  I should take notes.  Perhaps it was on a common area?   At any rate, the flowers are happy that spring is here, and SO ARE THE GARDENERS!  Come visit us!IMG_7450

Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

I have loaded this post with links you should find helpful.  Be sure to click on them for all kinds of extra information.  I have used Extension, or Horticultural sites, so you shouldn’t be troubled with any advertising when you go there.

  • This is a good time to get that soil tested. Then there will be time to amend it before the season gets into full swing!
  • Edge your flower beds to rid yourself of invading lawn rhizomes. Toss the edgings from this into the compost.
  • Rebar, the steel bars used to reinforce concrete and masonry, make great garden stakes. They’re inexpensive, strong and durable and they come in a variety of sizes. You can find them in any building supply store.
  • Start up your lawn mower so you know it doesn’t need a trip to the repair shop before grass cutting time. Also be sure the blades are SHARP.
  • Sharpen your other tools while you are at it!
  • The lawn would appreciate a good fertilizing at this time.
  • Avoid working in the garden unless the soil breaks up in your hand if you squeeze a lump of it.
  • Turn your compost 
  • Hummingbirds Be sure the feeders are cleaned every time you refill them.  The food should be 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.  Bring to a boil and cool before putting into the feeder.
  • Sow peas in the ground as soon as the frost is gone
  • Continue with the tree pruning. Get rid of dead and diseased limbs
  • As soon as your shrubs are done blooming, prune them as well.
  • You can prune your berry bushes-check a reference.
  • Rhubarb can be divided.  They are almost impossible to kill, so don’t worry about hurting them.
  • This is a good time to pull out weed trees and old bramble branches. They tend to yank out easily because the soil is still soft and moist.
  • Remove mulch from strawberries
  • Put your trellis systems and peony supports into place.
  • Pansies and other cold weather annuals can now be planted outside.
  • It is the time to divide and plant perennials as well as cutting any of last years remaining growth away. It’s known as good housekeeping in the garden!
  • If you have any bare root plants going into the garden, soak them overnight before planting. Also be sure to trim off any super long or broken roots.
  • If you winter mulch your garden beds, begin to remove mulch when forsythia and daffodils bloom.
  • Try planting scented flowers near walks!

I hope you’ll check out my book A Year In My New England Garden, which has a similar calendar along with vignettes of my gardening experiences in New England.  Your purchase of this book will help me cover my blogging costs.  It is inexpensive, and should be fun, helpful and make a great gift for gardening friends.

Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

  • Bring home some wonderful blooming flowers to enjoy around the house!
  • Be sure to fertilize that poinsettia.IMG_7112
  • Check your stored bulbs to be sure they’re not being eaten by mice.
  • Remove bulbs to be forced, from cold storage. Put them in a cool place until they begin to sprout, then bring them into the place you want to have them bloom.images.duckduckgo
  • This is a good time to buy summer blooming bulbs.
  • When your bulbs begin to sprout, give them a bit of fertilizer and scratch it into the soil.
  • If you want to get spring blooming plants, like creeping phlox, look for the ones in bloom so you’re sure to get the color you want!
  • Start seeds inside.
  • Begonias can be started directly in the garden.
  • Use maples as a guide.  When they start sending out leaves, the soil should be good for planting!
  • Don’t plant in mud!
  • Divide Perennials, and remember to water the new plantings if spring rains don’t materialize.
  • You can plant gladiola images.duckduckgoa few  every two weeks (up until July) to guarantee summer long bloom.
  • Once the soil has begun warming (remember the maples), get those veggie seeds & crops in the ground.
  • This is a good time to send in a soil sample for testing.
  • If you have a lawn, now would be the time to send the mower in for a tune-up.
  • Fruit trees should be pruned of dead and diseased branches. Check a reference book and give them a general pruning as well.
  • Keep your pruning shears away from spring blooming trees and shrubs, except to snip a few for inside forcing! (Although you should certainly remove dead and diseased branches.) Some good forcing candidates are: cherry, apple, dogwood and forsythia.  Just remember that whatever you cut off now will not be blooming in a few months!
  • Cut back woody perennials like artemesia, lavender and russian sage to about 6 inches from the ground.
  • Prune roses by removing old, damaged, diseased, and unproductive canes.  You can bring bush roses back to a foot or so tall, and shrub roses to three feet.img_2212
  • Talk about pruning shears…sharpen and clean them before using.

As many of you, my faithful readers, know-I wrote a book, entitled “A Year in My New England Garden”, a few years ago.  This is the story of how that came to happen.

Gardening has been an important part of my life since I was a kid living on Staten Island, one of the 5 boroughs of NYC.  It began when my mother decided she was going to become a “gardener”!

Her first venture was to plant some daffodils.  daffodils-1399483She knew they should be planted pretty deep in the ground, but she overextended that a bit, and when the flowers came up, the blooms were resting with their “chins” on the ground!  They had stretched about as far as they could and it didn’t allow them to get their blossoms farther than the soil surface.  It was pretty funny.  My mother NEVER made that mistake again (and neither did I!).

Her zeal to learn about how to do it right, brought her to membership into three different garden clubs.  She loved them…and boy!  Did she learn about gardening!

We had a very small plot of land around our house on Staten Island, but she filled it with beautiful, aromatic, and even tasty plants, although her passion was really for flowers.  There were climbing June roses, whose odor still bring me right back to my youth when I smell them today.  There were prize winning chrysanthemums, as well as proper daffodils, and other blooming bulbs, and perennials, etc.

She had my Dad build a pergola for her, that was a groaning board for honey-suckle vines.  We ate out there all summer long, right by the birdbath, surrounded by lovely plants of all sorts (and a TON of bees, I might add!).

Her garden clubs titilated her artistic bent and she soon began to make floral arrangements.  Those arrangements were so good that they were not only entered into the NY Flower Show, but she actually won prizes there for her endeavors.  We were very proud, but didn’t fully recognize the awesomeness of her talent until we were much older and realized just what she had accomplished!

She generated in me a life-long romance with flowering plants and anything having to do with them.  I, however, was never a “garden clubber”.  I have always found them to be more social than practical.  Perhaps that was just because where I lived tended to attract gardeners who cared more for the condition of their fingernails, than the soil those nails encountered!-7

At any rate, when I learned about the Master Gardener Programs available all over this country, I felt I  had found my calling!  I became a Master Gardener in Connecticut, where we lived at this point, and found my niche in helping new, or struggling gardeners be able to plant their daffodils right, the first time!

When my husband and I  retired to New Hampshire, I looked for a gardening “hot line” in vain.  At the time I arrived, they didn’t have one of those in my area (the boonies!)  So, I began a BLOG!

I worked on that blog for years, until we made the move to the Pacific Northwest, where we are closer to our daughter and her family, after years of living close to our sons.  (Don’t even ask why our kids all live a continent apart!)  I enjoyed the blog, and started a new one more appropriate for our new area.  I struggled with how I should approach it’s direction.

While struggling with that, I thought perhaps I should put some of my accumulated knowledge into a book, which is what I did.-1

It is essentially a collection of gardening vignettes followed by a gardening calendar.  It does tell about my New England garden, but a daffodil has the same needs in Seattle as it does in North Haverhill, NH and Wethersfield, CT.  Pruning is the same and the birds select their seed and backyards the same way.  Judging when to water depends on the plant, not the location in which you live!  So, although the book talks about a New England Garden…(I wish I had given it a different name.)  It really applies to ANY garden, and the stories are there for your enjoyment.  I’m hoping perhaps you give it a “look see”.  Perhaps you, or a gardener you know, might enjoy an inexpensive, yet information packed, gardening tome.

“A YEAR IN MY NEW ENGLAND GARDEN”

IMG_7188

Here are the hellebores in all their February glory!  As you saw in my last post, the garden is not sleeping any longer.  The natural alarm clock has gone off, and the plants are busy preparing for their appearance!

Here are some things you can deal with this month in your garden.  At Horizon House, not all of them are appropriate, but there are other gardeners (not living at Horizon House) who read this blog as well, so I’ve added a few things for them.  If something doesn’t apply to you, well just ignore it!

  • Bring home some wonderful blooming flowers to enjoy around the house!
  • This is the time to get out and take a good look at your trees to see if they could stand some pruning. It is easy to see whether there are broken or diseased branches now that there are no leaves.  Always think “could a bird fly right through this tree without banging into a branch?”  That would indicate that air and sun could ALSO fly right through-and that would be a GOOD thing!
  • Are you ordering from those catalogs? This is the time to plan on making your dreams come true! At least in the garden.
  • As you look around the neighborhood, make note of plants that have “winter interest”. Find out what they are and plan to add them to your garden when the weather is better!
  • Trees are easy to identify in the winter because all the leaves are gone. However, you have no leaves to use to help you either…so go to the book store and buy a Winter Tree Identification Guide. (I identified one of MANY appropriate books.  See if there’s one that you can relate with!)  It’s kind of fun identifying trees by their shapes, and the kids love doing it as well.
  • If you haven’t done it already, sharpen those tools-and while you’re at it, organize them as well.
  • Before you know it, should you have a lawn, it will be time to roll out the lawn mower. Has it been serviced? Get it to the shop before everyone else beats you to it.
  • If you have grapes, prune the vines now. If you wait until it begins to warm up, they will “bleed”.
  • Get rid of weeds you see, and if the mulch is getting thin, replenish it.
  • Do you have winter vegetables?  Now’s the time to harvest!
  • If you haven’t done a soil test done lately, maybe now’s the time?
  • If you start seeds this month or next, try using clear topped take-home trays that you get leftovers in, from restaurants. They work really well!  (I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen too many of these around lately.  I guess we’re getting better about compostable containers!)
  • Force some of your spring blooming twigs for indoor color. Try fruit trees, forsythia, dogwood, pussy willow and quince. Just bring them inside and allow them to sit in a large vase with water.
  • Keep those bird feeders full, unless you live in a high rise, like Horizon House…then the feeders attract varmints.  Horizon House residents…NO BIRD FEEDERS, except for Humming bird feeders.
  • Be sure to keep the leaves of indoor plants “dusted”. It helps to wipe them with a damp cloth to keep the pores open.
  • Look around the garden (if it isn’t covered by snow) and be sure none of your perennials have been heaved out of the ground by frost. If they have, press them back down.
  • Plant any bare root trees or shrubs when you get them.  They are usually available now.  They will be cheaper and probably easier to start!
  • Remove any heavy snow (should you have it)  from the evergreens.
  • Be alert!  You may see some signs of spring.  A bulb peeking up where you least expect it?  A robin after that worm?  WHEEEEE!  Can’t WAIT!
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